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Faith in Tough Times: Sixpence None the Richer

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Faith in Tough Times

Sixpence None the Richer talks about staying close to God when life is hard.

by Michael Johns

When life's a struggle, it's easy to wonder: Where's God?

And Sixpence None the Richer has struggled. For almost two years, the members of this award-winning band were unable to create new music.

When their record company folded, they found themselves on a new label, and entangled in complicated contract problems that made it legally impossible for them to work on a new album. Their creativity was "put on hold." Their finances suffered. They went on lengthy, exhausting tours just to make ends meet.

They wondered, they prayed, they cried. And one band member quit. In fact, the remaining members wondered if they should call it quits, too. But after two years of struggle, they were released from their old contract—and found themselves with yet another new record label. Late last fall, the band produced its third and highly acclaimed CD (self titled, Squint).

While the album deals with themes of deep pain, there's also the message that the God of hope is very close by. So we decided to ask them about their difficulties, and about remaining close to God during painful experiences.

Campus Life: Looking back on the difficult times you've been through, how were you able to keep your eyes on God?
Dale Baker: It's awful to go through hard experiences. And hopefully we'll never have to repeat what we went through over the last couple of years. But I think when things are going well, we have a tendency to sit back and say, "Oh, things are OK now, and I can take it easy." But that's not a good thing to do. You need to keep your relationship with God strong at all times. So when the tough times hit, you are better prepared to handle whatever happens.

Matt Slocum: You know, the whole Scripture is about people who go through struggles. It's about challenges and painful experiences. And the message is to remain strong through prayer and through relying on Christ. And, like Dale says, we need to do this especially when things are going well. If we don't, we'll collapse and crumble when hard times come our way.

But even a strong Christian can sometimes feel like God is pretty far away …
Leigh Nash: I think God is often hard to "find" because of our humanness. We depend so much on our feelings: I don't feel God, so he's not there. But you know what? God is as close as our breath. That close. Even if we don't recognize it, or feel it, he is that close.

Dale: I think we sometimes expect God to be so "easy" to find and be close to. It's kind of like we think we should "plug in" to some power source and suddenly we'll get God. It's like, "I've found God and now I can get on with the rest of my life." But getting closer to God is about building a relationship with him continually. It takes time. We must cultivate this relationship. If we do, we'll find ourselves closer to God.

Matt: I really like what Dale said about building a relationship with God. What kind of friendship would you have with somebody if you only called him up once every two months? The only way to know someone well is to spend a lot of time with him. When you do, you learn little details about him and his life. You discover what he loves and what he dislikes. You begin to know him so well you can almost know what he's going to say before he says it. It's like you can almost tell what he's thinking. But it takes pursuing this relationship every single day. And that's not easy.

Dale: Again, we often expect everything to be so easy. But if getting close to God were too easy, maybe our relationship with him would be superficial.

Matt: As a cellist, I know it takes hours and hours of practice and discipline to be any good at the cello. Mastering that instrument doesn't come easily. But with all the discipline and work comes wonderful music. With disciplined faith comes a rich and close relationship with God.

Tell me about a time when you felt incredibly close to God.
Dale: As I was finishing up my last year of college, I began to sense God was very close to me. I mean, it was almost a tangible closeness. It was like he was right there with me. While I'd been a Christian for a long time, it was like I'd discovered that God was a very real flesh and blood person.

I'd always believed that God would take care of my needs, but during that last year of college I saw him working so much in my life. Things happened—opportunities opened up to me—that showed me just how much of a provider he really was. I believe God provides all the time, but back then I just sensed his provision so powerfully.

Now, I want to stress that I don't think Christians should live their lives expecting God to be felt so intensely all the time. But when you're struggling, when you're doubting, when you don't sense God's closeness, you can look back and remember those experiences. They'll give you hope.

Matt: I felt very close to Christ in the first year after I became a Christian. I was around 15, and it seemed like I was learning so much from the Bible. New ideas and truths from God were almost constantly coming my way. God seemed so close.

Leigh: The times I feel closest to God are when I wake up in the morning and my first thoughts are about God. I find myself whispering, Good morning, Father! Thank you that I'm alive to live another day!

Leigh, what do you do to make this kind of closeness possible?
Leigh: It obviously doesn't happen all the time. But it helps if I go to sleep meditating on God and his Word. You know, the Bible tells us to think about the things that are good and not evil (Philippians 4:8). It's hard for bad things to enter your head if you're keeping your thoughts on God, instead of on the things of this world. In fact, if your first thoughts in the morning are on God, you'll have a better chance of keeping your thoughts on God all day long.

Copyright © 1998 by the author or Christianity Today International/Campus Life magazine. For reprint information call 630-260-6200 or e-mail
September/October 1998, Vol. 57, No. 2, Page 30

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